How do I get more people to read my blog? Step 1 – Get found by the search engines

First of a series of articles answering the question... "How do I get more people to read my blog?". This article explains how to get more search engine traffic. Start boosting your blog visitors by getting more search traffic.
17 Jan, 2012

This is the first of a two-part response to a question one of my clients raised recently. The question was this…

I know my posts aren’t the most exciting to read but wondered if something can be done to make it easy for folks to comment or even follow my blog if they so wish. Any suggestions?

I am splitting this into separate posts because there are really two different problems that need resolving :

How do I get more people to read my blog posts? 

Then, once they have read the blog post….

How do I get people to comment on, and follow, my blog posts?

So, first things first…

How do I get more people to read my blog posts?

Pretty much all the people who arrive at your website do so because :

  1. They found it via a search engine
  2. They found a link to it on another website
  3. You told them about it
  4. Somebody else told them about it
  5. You paid for them to find it

So it would seem reasonable that to increase your visitor numbers you need to address each of the above points to some degree. Let’s tackle each one in turn, but bear in mind that each of these points really merits a comprehensive article in it’s own right so only the basics are discussed here…

Getting found by search engines

With so many new websites being launched, it really is getting much harder to achieve good search engine positions for your site’s main key phrases. If you operate in a fairly exclusive niche then it might be slightly easier, but mostly it is hard, hard work without guarantee of success. Paying a search optimisation expert to help you do this may get you results, but you need to be fairly sure that your return on investment will outweight the costs before you commit, and if you do engage a professional –

  1. make sure that you can measure the improvement as you go
  2. don’t pay a large amount up front

There are things that you should be doing on your website yourself BEFORE asking a professional to get involved. I’m talking about the SEO ‘low hanging fruit’ here, the kind of good practice that should really be part of every page and every blog post that you create. There are no secrets here – just good common sense.

If you don’t do this (or pay someone to do it for you) then your chances of getting reasonable numbers of search engine visitors to land on your website are pretty slim.

Some of the points that will help search engines find your site, and rank it more highly, are :

  1. Make your site easily navigable, and make sure all of the pages that you want to be found can be found by navigating around your site. Remember that search engines cannot ‘log in’ to your site, so if you put any of your great content behind a login / registration page… it cannot be found;
  2. Create a sitemap for search engines AND tell the search engines about it. This is not the same as your normal html sitemap to help visitors find their way around your site, but is generally an XML sitemap specifically built for search engines;
  3. Finding some good phrases that people really do search for and then planting them in your website. There are various keyword tools that will help you find reasonable keywords for your site, but make sure you don’t go for the highly competitive keywords – isn’t it better to be found on page 1 of Google for a term that is searched for 50 times a month, than to be found on page 20 for a term that is searched for a million times a month? Nobody will find you on page 20. Also, bear in mind that none of the keyword tools are completely accurate!
  4. Making sure each of your pages has a good page title that really explains what the page is about – this could include one or several of your keywords;
  5. Structuring the layout of your pages so they contain appropriate heading tags (these are the h1, h2, h3 etc html tags)
  6. Making sure that plenty of other websites link to yours. This is really important, but I’m going to leave this for my next post (see Getting found from links on other websites)
  7. Fairly frequent updates to your website and blog content. Search engines appear to be giving frequency of update a little more priority these days. It makes sense for them to do this, as an active website is more likely to be ‘current’ and the business owner ‘at home’. If you were Google, would you really want to show searchers a web page that hadn’t changed for 5 years?
That’s it, in a nutshell, although to do this well for even a small website will be many hours work, and you’ll need to keep constantly reviewing how things are going and adjusting the site (especially your keyword usage and link building) to improve. There is such a lot of research material on the web for SEO, so if you want to know more – get searching… although you should perhaps get started with the Google SEO Starters Guide.
After writing this post I decided to split the other 4 points out into separate posts to make them more manageable (for you and me), so be sure to subscribe to the feed to be notified when the next one arrives.


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